Emmanuel Jal is a musician, actor and author from South Sudan. A former child soldier, he is now a renowned political activist and peace ambassador who has spoken and campaigned at events around the world. Born in the early 1980s in war-torn Sudan, Emmanuel Jal was recruited by the rebel army, Sudan People’s Liberation Army, at just seven years old. Here, he was trained to fight and forced to become a child soldier until he ran away roughly five years later.
The harrowing events he witnessed during this time were the catalyst for his music career and he uses hip-hop as a vessel to convey his messages of peace. He has released five solo albums, including Gua, his debut album whose title track was played throughout Africa and reached number one in Kenya. Establishing himself as an acclaimed musician, Jal has performed on famous stages across the world. He participated in the Live 8 Concert in 2005, took part in the 2007 live concert film The Concert to End Slavery and sang at Nelson Mandela’s 90th Birthday Party concert at Hyde Park in 2008.
A tireless campaigner for peace, Jal is a spokesperson for the Make Poverty History campaign, the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers and the Control Arms campaign. He also founded his own charity, Gua Sudan, which builds schools, provides scholarships and sponsors education for deprived children in Sudan.
In 2008, a documentary was made about Emmanuel, War Child, which won 12 film festival awards. Jal later released an autobiography under the same name. Emmanuel starred alongside Reese Witherspoon in the Hollywood Hit, The Good Lie, the film making its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2014. Jal’s project, We Want Peace, is a global peace campaign first launched in 2012. It aims to inform the world that global peace is a possibility and the campaign has been supported by a variety of A-list stars and leading figures. In 2011, Jal’s outstanding commitment to peace was recognised as he was awarded the Common Ground Award, earning him a place amongst fellow award holders Desmond Tutu and Mohammed Ali.
Emmanuel Jal has carried his message of peace and reconciliation across the world, addressing the UN, US Congress, the Carter Centre and speaking alongside personalities such as Angelina Jolie, Sir Richard Branson or Matt Dillon. He speaks with tremendous passion and uses his background to both motivate and inspire his audiences.